Celiac disease is a common chronic illness that is often left untreated. Even though at least 3 million people are living with celiac disease, roughly 97% of them are undiagnosed. Its symptoms are easily mistaken for other issues, and it can develop later in life.
What is celiac disease?
Celiac disease is an immune reaction to gluten, which is a protein found in certain grains. It causes gastrointestinal distress like gas, bloating, and inflammation. Over time, celiac disease will damage the small intestine's lining and prevent nutrients from absorbing.
What happens if you keep eating gluten with celiac disease?
A scary fact about celiac disease is that 1 in 100 people have it, whether they know it or not. Without early enough treatment, it will destroy the small intestine and lead to malnutrition. It's a chronic disease, meaning that it's likely to be a lifelong issue and isn't curable.
How do you know if you have it?
To get a celiac disease diagnosis, talk to your doctor about your symptoms. An easy blood test will determine whether or not you have celiac disease.
You should consider getting tested if you have issues with:
- Chronic fatigue
- Iron-deficiency anemia
- Weight loss
How is celiac disease treated?
While there's no cure, the symptoms from celiac disease will subside with treatment. Your doctor will recommend the best action for you, but treatment generally includes the following:
It's necessary to cut gluten out of your diet to avoid reactions. People with severe reactions may even have gluten attacks if they eat any. Going gluten-free will bring your intestine back to health in the long term.
Sometimes, symptoms can linger even after adopting a special diet. If this happens, it's called refractory celiac disease. Your doctor may prescribe you a specific gluten-free supplement or medication. Vitamins and minerals help to combat malnutrition. For relief from painful inflammation, your practitioner may also recommend corticosteroids or an immunosuppressant.
Is celiac treatment covered by insurance?
Primary physicians can test for celiac disease and recommend treatment. If you have health insurance, you'll pay your usual copay or coinsurance for covered visits. If your doctor does prescribe medication, you can find discounts to help offset your out-of-pocket costs. For example, RxLess has free savings cards to help you compare prices at your local pharmacies.